Big Right-Hander Completes Comeback From Shoulder Injury That Cost Him 2 Years

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — You can’t say he didn’t earn it.

Two years removed from the game while working his way back from a serious shoulder injury, Michael Pineda has been named the fifth starter in the Yankees’ rotation, the team announced Tuesday.

“He does not have an innings limit on him,” manager Joe Girardi said.

Pineda allowed three runs — two earned — over six innings against the Toronto Blue Jays on Sunday. The runs were the first the 25-year-old native of the Dominican Republic has allowed this spring and his 1.20 ERA with 16 strikeouts over 15 innings shows he’s put the injury behind him.

“I feel really good. Good energy in the game. You know, that’s what I want. It’s Michael Pineda energy,” Pineda said Sunday.

Though Pineda’s velocity has yet to reach the numbers it hit when he first broke into the majors with Seattle, the 6-foot-7, 265-pound right-hander has consistently hit 91-93 mph on the radar gun and has developed a reliable sinker, which has led to a lot more groundball outs. That’s always a good thing in hitter-friendly Yankee Stadium.

The other pitchers who competed for the fifth spot, David Phelps, Adam Warren and Vidal Nuno, will all be considered for a bullpen role, Girardi said.

The Yankees’ rotation will feature CC Sabathia at the top, followed by Hiroki Kuroda, Ivan Nova, Masahiro Tanaka and Pineda.

Acquired from Seattle back on Jan. 13, 2012, for right-hander Hector Noesi and top catching prospect Jesus Montero, Pineda was coming off a season in which he went 9-10 with a 3.74 ERA. And while those numbers may not appear stellar, he started 6-2 with a 2.42 ERA over his first 10 major league starts and was eventually named to the All-Star team before tailing off in August and September.

Pineda attended the following spring training with the Yankees but was placed on the disabled list with shoulder tendinitis just prior to opening day. During his rehabilitation he suffered a torn labrum, underwent arthroscopic surgery and was lost for the season. He started last season on the 60-day DL and was eventually activated and kept at Triple-A Scranton.

Pineda has long been thought of as a pitcher with ace stuff. Now we’ll see if the Yankees can officially win the trade.

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